Homework is the bane of every student, as it is for the parents.
As a matter of fact, homework is not even necessary in the first place.
Before you react, there are countless studies to validate this claim. But even if we go on a hard-fought, well-thought, debate on whether homework is important or not, homework is here to stay.
That said, helping kids with their take-home assignments is a duty we have to fulfill. But how exactly do we do it?
Below are actionable parenting tips to help your kids with their homework without doing it for them!
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Parenting Tips on How to Do Homework with Kids
We used to believe that parental availability and support while kids do their assignments is key for their class success. "The more involved parents are, the better off they would be," so to speak.
But that is a misconception and sometimes may even be counterproductive. As Kathleen Reilly said:
“When parents are overly immersed in homework, they deny kids the chance to become more independent and confident. Worse, it can breed anxiety along the way.”
Helping kids with homework means that you offer your support but never treat the assignment like it's your responsibility. It's challenging, but kids need to do homework on their own because the assignments deal with lessons already discussed in class. Plus, answering homework by themselves is a good way to teach independent learning.
With that in mind, here are the homework tips for parents:
1. Work Out a Working Routine
Believe it or not, children love routines because they create structure.
This helps children feel more secure because they know what to do and what's expected of them.
Face it, nobody likes homeworks. But make it easier for your kids to do their's by doing routines such as below:
What time should they start? Set a definite time when they should do their homeworks. Will it be right after they arrive from school? Should they play for an hour first? Would they do it after shower time or after dinner?
Where is their homework place? The place they choose is likely the area they feel most comfy working in. That element adds extra help when doing homework. Find a place and stick with it.
If you have multiple kids, distinct routines for each are fine. What matters is that you enforce discipline and commitment to the schedule. Write the details on a sheet of paper and post their routines on the wall!
2. Make a Homework Plan
The routine simply tackles the when and where kids do their assignments. A homework plan focuses on how they do it.
Doing homework needs to be systematic, both for you and the child. Approach homework from a systematic point of view and you save yourselves time and whine.
The example below is the system I found most suited for my children. You can follow it or fashion your own process, whichever works best. Here's what my kids do:
Read the directions of the homework, twice.
Determine the goal and the steps needed to achieve it.
Divide the assignment into several chunks (if logically possible).
Set time limits for each portion and mark each as complete when finished.
Helping kids with homework is not about giving them all the answers. It's about strategizing on how to finish the homework effectively and efficiently.
3. Monitor, Don't Correct
Let's get back to basics.
What is the purpose of homework?
Homework allows teachers to gauge what the students understood in class. That said, mistakes are welcomed.
But since most parents dread the idea of making mistakes, they try to correct each flaw too often all for a perfect remark.
Word of advice: Teachers are well-aware of how your kids perform in class, so they know the truth.
My point is, remove the notion of absolute perfection from your kids.
It's okay to make mistakes, as long as they learn how to correct them on their own! There should be no pressure on them to avoid mistakes at all costs. Encourage an atmosphere of growth. But, make it clear to your kids they should resolve their mistakes the next time around, once they understand the correct answer.
Do this instead:
Allow your kids to ask you up to 3 questions on their homework. But, be stingy on answering their questions right away.
When they ask, reply to them something like "I can help you once I finish my chores" or "Read it again, I'll be back in a sec."
You might not realize it, but this is one subtle way to help kids with homework. When you delay your aid, you gently force them to reread the directions and rework the problem on their own.
Monitor and ask them probing questions on the reason behind their homework answers.
4. Set an Example to Imitate
Helping kids how to do homework can also mean modeling the behavior to them. This is a parenting hack that most parents fail to practice.
It can be a good motivating factor for the kids if you do chores like budgeting or computing household expenses at the same time they do their assignments.
This is one indirect way to teach kids how to do homework. Set a good example and you'll find them following your footsteps.
5. Don't Sit Beside Them
Sitting and closely monitoring your kids as they answer homework is not at all helpful.
Behind the scenes, it sends a message to their brains that you might think they can't do the work without direct supervision.
Would you like that? Of course not!
Helping kids with their homework should also tap into the emotional aspect of learning. Show them that you trust their brains by letting them do their assignment on their own. Otherwise, you shatter their self-confidence leading to feelings of inferiority.
Here are my suggestions:
Stay nearby, do chores, balance your checks, wash dishes. Basically, just be there for them, without literally sitting beside them.
6. Establish the No-Nonsense Responsibility
Make the duties of each member in the family clear.
Of course, both you and your partner have work responsibilities, and so do the kids! They're expected to be diligent with their responsibilities:
Work with their teachers
And of course... do their homeworks
Once they agreed to a working routine and a homework plan, then there is no turning back. Tell them to buckle their seats until they finish their tasks. Discipline matters just as much as intellect and system when dealing with homework.
7. Teach Them Time Management
Time management is the one of the most important tools for productivity.
Once your kids learn the benefits of being in control of their time, they position themselves to a life of success. Time management is not only relevant for homework. Instilling this behavior is a must from the get-go.
One tip is using an old analog wall clock and coloring in the hour when they should do answer their homework. Once the short arm reaches it, teach them to take initiative to do their tasks.
Help them in sorting the time out too, especially, if there are multiple homework in one seating.
8. Positive Reinforcement is a Great Hack
They say the best way to man's heart is through their stomach. Well, the best way to a child's heart is through snacks and treats. (I made that up)
Instead of threatening them to limit their TV watching time or call their teachers, why not compensate their efforts with some good ol' sweets?
Reinforcing their diligence pushes them more to do it. Scare tactics are not as good as rewards to encourage a behavior. Although, do the positive reinforcement practice sparingly.
Appreciating their efforts is another way to help kids with homework as this motivates them. You can do this by:
Posting their aced assignments or exams
Displaying their art projects on the fridge
It showcases how much you value their efforts and how proud you are of them.
9. Walk Away Once the Whine Fest Starts
How does walking away help kids on how to do homework? Well, it doesn't. It's more for your benefit than them.
Having a rough day at work is physically and mentally exhausting. Add another layer of whining because kids don't want to do their assignments, and you enter a whole new level of stress.
If they keep on complaining, check their homework progress.
If they are only being grumpy even when they can do it, then try to motivate them. Tell them that the sooner they finish, the more time they'd have to watch their favorite TV shows.
If the homework is indeed truly difficult, then lend them a hand.
Ask their teacher about it, especially if the homework is beyond the kid's level of understanding. Inquire if it's appropriate to give kids complex problems. Their teachers would love to hear feedback from parents, on top of that, to aid the pupils with their homework!
10. Let Them Take the Lead
Their Homework is not only a test of one's learning but also of a kid's sense of responsibility.
Their answers should be theirs and they must own up if they fail to do it. If they left their homework at home, then parents shouldn't bail their kids out by bringing their assignments to class.
Matt Vaccaro, a first-grade teacher, says that he makes students do their assignment during recess if they forget to do it at home.
According to him "Once she starts missing playtime, she gets the message."
This seemingly harsh yet rightful way to deal with their negligence actually motivates the kids to be responsible in the succeeding homework.
Helping them how to do homework is as necessary as teaching them to be responsible for it.
11. Keep Your Composure and Carry On
Homework meltdowns do occur, so be ready!
These are children's ways of saying they're overwhelmed. And sometimes these kids are indeed struggling so bad.
Parents, please keep your composure. Breathe and stay calm. You risk compromising their progress if you too burst out in frustration. Remember that homework is an opportunity to cultivate better parent-child relationships.
Here are ways to address homework meltdowns:
A simple hug might do
Speak words of affirmation like "we'll figure it out"
Let them vent out to you while you listen calmly
Sometimes, kids just need to blow off some steam. Catering to these needs are subtle ways of helping kids with homework. See the mood change after they've burst the bubble.
If ever you did lash out (although we hope not). Apologize immediately and tell your child that you both need a timeout for 10 minutes. They can play for within that period and resume working on the homework once the time is up.
Helping kids with homework is a dual purpose. You make homework accomplishment more manageable for them and you make life easier for you. Consider the above homework tips next time your kids have assignments.
The How-to-do-Homework Hack!
Some kids might still see learning as a chore, and that's okay. I mean, who likes to wake up early and be in class when they can play at home all day?
Making the most out of their curiosity helps transform their perception of learning — from a tedious and boring chore to a fun and interactive learning experience. We believe that the way to encourage kids to do their homework is by making them see the fun in learning.
The best way to do this is using educational toys!
The STEMscope portable microscope is a good tool to cultivate your child's curiosity. This handheld science gadget is an all-around partner for your kid's best learning!
Once they activate their curiosity, they develop the insatiable desire to learn, after that, they will see homework as fun learning opportunity!
Check out our complete catalog of science toys to find the best toy for your kid!